Amazing Ultra Cameo Superb Gem Proof
1899 $20 PR67 Ultra Cameo NGC. This is only the second time
Heritage has been privileged to offer a PR67 Ultra Cameo example of
this important turn-of-the-century issue. The first instance came
in March 2008, with the offering of The Ultra Collection's
specimen. In a remarkable coincidence, the present coin made its
most recent auction appearance in October of the same year, in the
Stack's 73rd Anniversary Sale. The Stack's cataloger called this
coin, offered as part of the A. Rockford Cummings Collection,
"easily one of the top two or three Proofs of this date, and
barring the opportunity of making a side-by-side comparison with
similarly graded coins, may indeed be the finest known." The
assessment is supported by the NGC Census Report, in which
three PR67 Ultra Cameo coins are the finest known, and the PCGS
Population Report, which lists no equivalent Deep Cameo
representatives; this was true as of the 2008 printings of both
catalogs and remains true as of (11/11).
1899 Twenty, Tied for Finest Known
Less supportable is the Stack's cataloger's enthusiastic follow-up: "An example at this numerical grade level has not crossed the auction block in at least 15 years!" (Perhaps the excitement of seeing this coin caused him or her to forget the events of seven months ago.) The slight inaccuracy, however, underscores a fundamental truth about the proof 1899 double eagles: they are rare regardless of condition. In the Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins, Garrett and Guth note that despite a nominal mintage of 84 pieces, "The date is rare, with fewer than 30 coins being accounted for today." Another anecdote from Garrett and Guth underscores that rarity by referencing the National Numismatic Collection: "The Smithsonian contains multiple examples of most all the dates of the Proof double eagles. There is only one 1899 Proof double eagle in the collection, however, and the coin is just PF-63 in quality." That two verifiably different specimens have survived in PR67 Ultra Cameo condition, much less a possible third, is nothing short of remarkable.
"Remarkable" is an excellent word to describe the present specimen as well. On the interior mirrored fields, the color shifts from pale yellow to "black" with the slightest tilt in the light, and the mirrors are utterly impeccable. The contrast is stunning and entirely worthy of the Ultra Cameo designation, and the overall preservation is magnificent. The coin's few faults, which also serve as its major pedigree markers, also give the coin visual interest, and to some, they may not be faults at all. A small milky dot is superimposed against the frost in the middle of Liberty's cheek, for example, and several coppery areas on the rims and just into the denticles form a reddish-brown contrast to the dominant golden hue. A tiny planchet flake under the left side of star 10, roughly equidistant between that star and the hair behind Liberty's coronet, has no influence on the technical grade but is the coin's most reliable pedigree marker after the distinctive pattern of rim copper. The plastic holder has a few light scratches that should not be interpreted as damage to the coin. Just as the two PR67 Ultra Cameo appearances in 2008 were followed by auction silence until now, it is impossible to tell when a proof 1899 double eagle of this quality will come on the market next. Bid accordingly.
Ex: A. Rockford Cummings (Stack's, 10/2008), lot 1080, which realized $172,500.
From The Jim O'Neal Gold Type Collection.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 26EL, PCGS# 99115)
Weight: 33.44 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
View all of [The Jim O'Neal Gold Type Collection ]
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